Monday, April 25, 2011

F550EXR – Night Shooting 2 — Review Part 42

The original night shooting article has proven to be very popular. But also controversial. The flare probably tops the charts in the “greatest hits of the F550” hate files. So I thought I might be useful to shoot a few evenings over the last week with the camera set to P mode mostly. Let it decide what to do. I always shoot this camera and the F200EXR in auto ISO 3200, but the F550 can be quite conservative at times with ISO.

Part 1

So … filling up with gas one evening after dark, I shot the pump before starting (these are someone else’s numbers but mine were higher later.

Here is a JPEG original. Click on it to get the big one. The camera chose ISO 1250 by the way.

The astute among you have already seen the flare. Lots of it and in kaleidoscope formation. Lots of people call it “pink” … but if you float the mouse over the area you will see the colors shifting from blue, through aqua, hitting pink and even magenta. It’s all over the place, but of course always fairly subtle. Some will tolerate it, some will hate it.

Me, I process it to lessen the effect.

Backing up, I shot the whole station. I processed the flare, but left the original grain after opening the shadows. You can see that a higher contrast would be better for most night images. If you prefer open mid tones as I do, then you need to get proficient with 3rd party noise removal tools like Topaz Denoise or Neat Image.

I then drove over to the theater and looked around for images that might show how it responds to the dark of night. Here, the local Staples is closed, but you can see some traffic coming in towards the theater and a few restaurants. This one is ISO 3200. The next few have their flare desaturated by me to show how I handle it.

For full disclosure on this last one, here is an animation of what I did with the hue/sat tool brushed over the flare and with the patch tool to remove the streaks, which come from bare reflective edges inside the lens – SHAME ON FUJI for that.

Here’s a 360-degree sweep panorama I made of the area.

Part 2

Driving downtown again to pick Jon up on a rainy night and carrying the F550 and F200 in my pockets. It appears that I accidentally uploaded the full-sized version of this F550 image shot as I was leaving. A macro of the rain. The F200 image follows, but is processed to 800px. Weird …

The white balance differences are pretty obvious all through this series. The F200 loves its blues.

Stopping at a red light as I approach the war memorial, I shoot the memorial at full zoom with both cameras. Here, I present them with the F200 cropped to match the reach. F550 first.

The grain difference tells the story on reach.

Here we see the major difference in exposure. A lot of people criticize the F550 for its much more open presentation of mid tones and highlights. Neither of these has any compensation applied, so you’re looking at what the meter likes to do on each camera.

Both at ISO 3200 and 0EV. F550 first.

And yet again, I prefer the F550’s interpretation of this scene. YMMV of course.

Bottom Line …

The flare on the F550 will be a show stopper for some. The slight increase in detail in low ISO jpegs for the F200 will appeal to some, but of course will not show up in their prints :-) … and the blue-ish white balance will appeal to some. That’s a personal taste thing and that’s not up for discussion. But I find it hard to consider the F550 anything but a competent small sensor camera with excellent reach and RAW as its ace in the hole.

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